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"The more you see, the more you know. The more you know, the more you see." Aldous Huxley
"Seeing isn't believing. Believing is seeing."
Little Elf Judy, The Santa Clause

Course schedule
(subject to change, so don't print out once and treat as gospel; refer back regularly)

Class session
Texts, Readings, Resources
Week 1: Friday, July 3

Semiotics and the grammar and syntax of visual rhetoric

Semiotics of architecture

DUE: First safari, object as symbol AND second safari, unusual visual rhetoric

Should by now have read:

1st field trip: Saturday, July 4

Field Trip 1: Architecture as Visual Rhetoric

Pompidou, a cathedral and Le Corbusier: 10am departure


Week 2: Monday, Wednesday

July 6, 8

Monday: Comic books and graphic novels (outline)
Apkon, chapters 1 & 2
Signs and Symbols
Light as metaphor

Wednesday: Apkon, chapter 3
Semiotics (Berger, Peirce)
Cognitive theory (memory)
Denotation/Connotation (Barthes) | another outline for note-taking

Metonymy (Snicker's ad)

DUE Wednesday: Third safari, a photographic example of light used as metaphor. Original photography only, in Paris. (NOTE: This isn't YOUR metaphor, or one you make with available light, but found somewhere -- someone else's metaphor, like an artist's or an advertiser's or a church's, etc.)

2d field trip: Tuesday, July 7

Montmartre, Dali Espace, Brassai’s steps  

Week 3: Monday, Wednesday

July 13, 15

Monday: Displaced codes; Barthes -- denotation/connotation; myth; mythic truth

Seeing, sensing, selecting and perceiving

PERCEPTION: Color, form, depth, movement

Wednesday: Stereotyping

Colbert's Stereotypes One | Two | The Racial Draft | Terrorist stereotypes | Gender role reversals | Axe's hair meets boobs

Anti-stimulus bill editorial cartoon case study:

DUE Monday: Berger code safari -- bring in print ads (or photo of print ads) that use metonymic, analogical, and condensed symbolic codes to persuade. Type up an explanation, print out and submit, with a copy of the image or images. You can submit one ad with all three, or one ad each, or combinations. Just make sure you have an example of each of the three symbolic codes we discussed (we'll do displaced last on Monday).

ALSO DUE Monday: Find and bring in an advertisement that has Peirce's iconic, indexical, and symbolic signs. Include a paragraph identifying the three in the image, explaining why each representation is in fact what you say it is. You can bring in one or more ads to show you know all three.

DUE Wednesday: This safari, a variation of your first one back in your hometown, has elements of sociology, psychology and archaeology. Can you dig it? Here’s what to do: Hit the streets of Paris armed with only a digital camera (or smartphone with camera functionality). Search out in its natural habitat the most exotic, interesting, unusual, or mysterious piece of visual rhetoric you can find. Do four things:

  1. Find and record (capture) the artifact
  2. Write a sentence or two about what it means
  3. Another sentence or two about how you know what it means
  4. And, finally, cite a power tool that helped you determine No. 3

Week 4: Monday, Wednesday

July 20, 22

Monday: Visual Persuasion (advertising)
Apkon, chapters 4-6
Cymbalta case study
Product placement

Lloyds Bank of London ad: A Fairy Tale | Because 'America'

The Cymbalta ad on YouTube

Anti-gay marriage | anti-anti-gay marriage vids | tolerance v. acceptance

CatholicVote | Scarecrow Ad | Funny or Die critique | 30 Rock strikes again | Starbucks on Best In Show | Mirriad digital placement | Mazda ad with Mia Hamm | Dissolve | iPhone parody | Once There Was No Colour (Dulux)

Prep for our second safari: Musee d'Orsay

Wednesday: Typography, 'Man of Letters'

BC's Prezi down Broad Street (typeface tour)

Typography (.ppt download) | Type sketch on College Humor | Typography Deconstructed | Comic Sans on The Onion Network | Why you should care about type (FastCompany) | Designer of Transport typeface on Top Gear | History of Typography (The Atlantic)

Due Monday: Half the class bring in an ad with stereotype; half bring in one showing or using a counter-stereotype, with a paragraph or two explaining.

Due Wednesday: MIDTERM

Fieldtrip 3: Tuesday, July 21 Musee d'Orsay Meet in front of Cite main bdg at 10am

Week 4: Monday, Wednesday

July 27, 29

Monday: Graphic Design | eras of graphic design

  • Balance
  • Unity
  • Contrast
  • Rhythm
  • CVI
  • Z pattern
  • The Big Idea (metaphor)

Six Perspectives

negative space logos | negative space II | title sequences and title screens | great logo examples | really bad logos | Good minimalist logos

Wednesday: Photography
La Jetee

Migrant Woman Revisited | New York Times photo blog | Denver Post's history of America, 1939-1943, in photos | Essay on Photography (.pdf download) | camera obscura |

Doisneau, Brassai

DUE Monday: Snapshot of the typeface you would choose to be your presidential campaign's official typeface, from those on display between Cite and IPT (our classroom), so along General DeClerq or Jordain, or Denfer-Rochereau. Include a short rationale describing the attributes or characteristics embodied in that typeface and why they would be important to communicate in your campaign.

DUE Wednesday: A photo of the mundane, the ugly or hideous, and the poignant/timeless/poetic, plus an explanation AND a photo you take of a "broken dream." No Photoshopping, no filters, here in Paris. Something ‘found.’

Fieldtrip 4: Tuesday, July 28 Disneyland Paris | Get your tickets at Meet in front of Cite main bdg at 10am
Week 5: Friday, July 31

Television and Film
Apkon, chapters 7 & 8

Saturday, Aug. 1 Class presentations  

“Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak.” John Berger, Ways of Seeing (1972)

“It is a paradox of the twentieth century that while visual images have increasingly come to dominate our culture, our colleges and universities traditionally have devoted relatively little attention to visual media.” Sturken and Cartwright, Practices of Looking (2001)

Course Description: Study of visual theory, visual literacy and how visual images are used to persuade. Students study and interpret audience-specific visual culture and communication, and the rhetoric of visual materials.

Course Purpose & Objectives: By the end of this course, my goal is for students to --  

  • Better understand how images and their viewers make and communicate meaning.
  • Know how to study and decipher images for their textual meanings by applying methods of interpretation. (Object of focus: images.)
  • Examine modes of responding to visuality, or the practices of seeing or looking. (Object of focus: viewer/reader/audience.)
  • Explore the roles images play in culture and how those roles change as the images move, circulate, become appropriated and cross cultures.
  • Likewise, explore how cultural influences determine the type of visual messages used and how they are interpreted.
  • Learn a grammar and ethics of seeing and of producing visual messages.

What you will need (required):

  • The Age of the Image: Redefining Literacy in a World of Screens, Stephen Akron (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2013)
  • Access to a digital camera (model, sophistication not factors, and don't buy one just for class; you can borrow one

What you may want (recommended but not required):

  • Visual Communication, Paul Martin Lester (Thomson), fifth edition
  • Ways of Seeing, John Berger (Penguin)
  • The Image, Dan Boorstin (Vintage)
  • Ourspace, Christine Harold (University of Minnesota)
  • Meggs’ History of Graphic Design, Philip B. Meggs and Alston W. Purvis (Wiley)
  • Visual Methodologies, Gillian Rose (Sage)
  • Graphic Communications Today, Ryan and Conover (Thomson)
  • On Photography, Susan Sontag (Picador)
  • Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture, Marita Sturken and Lisa Cartwright (Oxford)

Stuff you need to know:

Professor: Dr. Brian Carroll
Home page:
Blog: Wandering Rocks


  • Attendance: Every absence that is not excused by the program director results in the drop of a letter grade. Three instances of tardness will be treated as one absence.
  • Field trips & fees: Field trips are an integral and required component of Program courses, and students pay their own way. The instructor will collect these fees at the first class meeting.
  • Distractions: This instructor is easily distracted. Ringing cell phones, therefore, will be lobbed out of the classroom window and into the Paris streets. Chatter during lecture will result in "professionalism and participation" point deductions, as will Facebooking, texting or any other unauthorized Internet use during lecture or topic presentations.
  • Preparation: Complete the assignments, do the readings and be ready to tackle the activities of the day. Be ready to discuss and debate ideas and approaches.
  • Academic integrity: Because academic integrity is the foundation of college life, academic dishonesty will result in automatic failure on the assignment in question. Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, the following: cheating, unauthorized collaboration, plagiarism (reproducing ideas, words, or statements without giving proper credit to original sources), fabrication, submitting the same work in multiple courses, and aiding and abetting (collusion). For definitions of these terms, please consult the instructor. If you breach this academic integrity policy, you will fail the course and be referred to your college or school dean for disciplinary action. Writing assignments will be submitted to, a plagiarism detection database.
  • Late submissions: Because the due dates for written assignments are known well in advance, there is no reason why the assignments cannot be completed on time. Moreover, it would be unfair to selectively grant extensions. All late work, therefore, will be penalized. Assignments received from one class period late will be penalized one letter grade. Assignments received two class periods late will be penalized two letter grades. No assignments will be accepted more than one week late.

How you will be graded:

Safari findings 15%
Exam I 25%
Exam II 25%
Final exam 25%
Professionalism and participation 10%

To compute your final grade, add up your point totals, apply the appropriate percentages, then refer to the grading system summarized here:

59 and below

Definitions of the grades can be found in the Berry College Bulletin. “A” students will demonstrate an outstanding mastery of course material and will perform far above that required for credit in the course and far above that usually seen in the course. The “A” grade should be awarded sparingly and should identify student performance that is relatively unusual in the course.

Ethical conduct
Academic dishonesty in any form is unacceptable because any breach in academic integrity, however small, strikes destructively at the college’s life and work. The code is not just policy, it is foundational to the academic environment we enjoy and in which scholarship thrives. It is in force in this classroom.

For the complete Viking Code, please consult the student handbook. In short, each student is “expected to recognize constituted authority, to abide by the ordinary rules of good conduct, to be truthful, to respect the rights of others.” The College’s mission, in part, commits to a community of integrity and justice. During an era when ethics are sometimes suspect, there seems no higher goal toward which students ought to strive than that of personal honor.

Students with special needs
If you have special needs of any kind, including learning disabilities, please let me know. Come discuss it with me. I want to make sure on the front end that we prevent any problems associated with the course.

Finally, I believe we are here for a good time, not a long time, so let’s have some fun!

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